By Brian Turk
The melding of electronic sounds and live instrumentation — livetronica — has become one of the fastest growing sub-genres in the Colorado music scene. Beats and boom are interlaced with live playing, creating waves of danceable sounds. While many livetronica acts make it their mission to move crowds, BoomBox claims that they perform by letting crowds move them.
BoomBox started thumping when longtime friends Russ Randolph and Zion “Rock” Godchaux (son of Grateful Dead members Keith and Donna Jean Godchaux) decided to meld rock and blues with a funky psychedelic backbeat. Right out of the gate, the two drew dance-loving crowds, and put out an album that received both critical and popular acclaim. When The Marquee spoke with Randolph and Godchaux separately at their respective home studios, Godchaux said it was their never-ending experimentation which has been the success behind the group.
“We don’t think anything’s ever done,” Godchaux said. “We turn things in when we have someone slamming us over the head with a deadline, but these songs are evolving creatures of their own. Those songs we did on our first album are still evolving today. I don’t think anything is ever really done.”
With the ability to be able to work remotely from the home studios they each have built, BoomBox has been able to finally find some balance and bear down on what they have been wanting for so long — an extended repertoire.
“It’s tough because we don’t have the body of work that we would like,” Randolph said. “We have a bunch of material that we never actually recorded on an actual album before. We are independent artists, so we have no one to answer to. It’s kind of a double edged thing. Yes, we have freedom and don’t have to answer to anyone, but sometimes we really need someone to kind of help us stay focused and to put a deadline in front of us.”
Godchaux added, “Even after we cut the record version it’s still not done. We want it to sound as good and as true to its essence as possible. You know? But it’s not like the kid’s 18 and going away to college and you’re not gonna see it. A song isn’t just a snapshot. It’s alive. And we can decide to visit it whenever we want and hang out.”
And these days, Randolph and Godchaux are spending a lot of quality time with their “kids.”
“We are deep in the trenches of the studio trying to get this damn thing finished and out right after the holidays are over,” Randolph said of the duo’s new album. But from the sounds of things, the two producers still have miles to go. “It’s going to be called Fill In The Color, or maybe Colors or Filling In the Colors — we’re not sure. Something like that,” Godchaux said.
This album — the group’s third — is the first one that they have done with their own studios and Randolph explained that the freedom that comes with that arrangement is something that they’re starting to become comfortable with. “We can just work whenever it feels natural for us, individually. It’s really, really good. And we are just now really getting into the balance of that lifestyle. This is a really good chapter for BoomBox right now,” he said.
Godchaux went on to explain that this current arrangement is the antithesis of the life that they have been leading for several years. “We have wanted to balance that out more. For years, we just toured and toured, to where we didn’t have anywhere else to go in the States because we had already been there. We are thankful and fortunate to have work, and I’m not complaining about it, but it’s also really important for us to release tracks, because we love that just as much as playing live,” Godchaux said. “Even though our record portfolio is not the biggest, it’s still our passion, and we are trying to open up more calendar time in the year to be able to spend time in the studio. It just makes more sense. You are putting out music and your tours are supporting that music. Instead of your tours just supporting your tours (laughs).”
BoomBox may be cutting back on touring a bit, in order to expand their body of work, but Denver will be getting a double dose of them right after the new year. And amidst the changes, Boombox’s philosophy stays the same. “When we play, we are trying to listen to the people,” said Godchaux. “Thats the reasons we don’t do setlists. We stop to hear what the audience has to say. We don’t make a plan for a show, we just react to what the crowd is doing. So it’s a conversation. We try to make it as real and authentic as we can every night.”
:: BoomBox ::
:: Ogden Theatre :: January 4 and 5 ::
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